Shoreditch to Islington Green: Trendy, Traditional and Tranquil East London

Greetings to you all and thanks for coming along with me on another journey across the capital! Today’s walk begins in Shoreditch with a visit to Boxpark and Brick Lane, before taking me to The Geffrye Museum of the Home. I’ll then go to Haggerston Park, with a pleasant walk along the Regent’s Canal to Shoreditch Park, with my final stop of Islington Green!

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Shoreditch to Islington Green

My walk begins in swanky Shoreditch and at one of its fairly recent sights, Boxpark, which was installed in 2011 as the world’s first pop-up mall. Created by Roger Wade, the whole concept of the area was to refit and repurpose shipping containers into an independent and revolutionary retail experience which showcases fashion and creativity in a street setting.

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Boxpark Front View

The distinctive model of the park is an alternative set-up not just for customers, but also retailers who are on the hunt for more affordable space in the capital. With an array of brands and places to dine, the park illustrates the unique reputation that Shoreditch brings. The success of Boxpark Shoreditch has seen two others ‘pop up’, one in Wembley and another in Croydon. It’s certainly quite different to walking around a huge mall, and with space in London becoming more sought after, you expect niche and quaint places such as these to be launching in many other areas.

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Boxpark Brands!

Now it’s time to leave Boxpark and do a bit of a wander around a few other sights in Shoreditch. Located in East London, Brick Lane was formerly known as Whitechapel Lane, though its name today derives from the brick and tile manufacturers who used the brick earth deposits in the 15th century.

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Bustling Brick Lane

Brewing began in Brick Lane around 1680, with one such brewer named Joseph Truman beginning his brewing there in 1683, and his family would go on to establish the sizeable Black Eagle Brewery on Brick Lane. The old building is still prominent in the Shoreditch skyline today, with it being used for food markets and events.

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Well-Known Truman Brewery

The Brick Lane market was first developed in the 17th century for the selling of fruit and vegetables. The area saw a wave of immigration throughout the 18th and 19th century with French Huguenots, the Irish and many people of the Jewish faith settling there.

The theme of immigration has continued into the 20th century with many Bangladeshi immigrants now residing in the area. It’s now the hub of London’s Bangladeshi community, which reenforced Brick Lane’s reputation of being famed for its many authentic curry restaurants. If you go there on a Sunday, which I did, the markets are thriving with a range of stalls selling a variety of clothes, handbags, jewellery and vintage, chic boutiques. 

The Brick Lane and Shoreditch area is seen by many to be quite edgy and hip, and whilst you walk around there past the many lovely independent coffee shops, there’s loads of street art which demonstrates the trendy reputation.

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Funky but Scary!
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All the Colours of the Rainbow!
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Not sure what this means?!

Shoreditch really is one of the most unique parts of London with it being a cultural hub of creativity and diversity through its art, food, people and places.

It’s time to leave Brick Lane, and head towards a peaceful little area called Arnold Circus, no clowns here though! The housing development within the Boundary Estate was opened in 1900 which makes it one of the earliest social housing schemes built by a local Government authority. The bandstand within the circus has the honour of having Grade II listed status.

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Arnold Circus Bandstand

Leaving the gardens, a walk towards Hoxton brings you to the very picturesque Geffrye Museum of the Home which was established in 1914 and aims to inspire everyone about the multiple meanings of the home from 1600 to the present day. To do this the museum showcases displays of urban living rooms, gardens, special exhibitions and events.

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The Geffrye Museum of the Home

Located on a former almshouse, a house built originally by a charitable person for poor people to live in, the building was developed in 1714 with the bequest of the former Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Ironmongers’ Company. The almshouse had fourteen houses with each having four rooms which provided retirement homes for up to 56 pensioners.

By the 18th century the area was mainly rural with market gardens to supply Londoners with fresh vegetables and herbs. During the 19th century with London expanding the area became home to the centre for London’s furniture and clothing trades, with the farmland being replaced with housing, factories and workshops.

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Glorious Grounds of the Museum

The Shoreditch area by 1910 had become one of London’s most heavily populated places and with serve overcrowding and little sanitation, the Ironmonger’s Company relocated and as a result sold the almshouses & gardens to the London County Council in 1912.

With the arts and crafts movement gaining momentum in the area, the location was converted into a museum in 1914 to inspire and educate people about the local furniture trade. With the furniture industry moving away from Shoreditch, the focus turned to collections around the home. As the years went on, the museum increased its collections of paintings, furniture and decorated arts, with a period garden being added in the 20th century.  The focus of the museum today centres on the home and home life reflected in changes in society, patterns of behaviour, style, fashion and taste.

The area does have a really grand and historical feel to it, and it’s quite hard to believe such a glorious area is hidden within bustling Shoreditch!

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Grand Gardens

It’s now time to carry on my walk to my next destination of Haggerston Park which is located in the south-west corner of Hackney.  Originally created in the 1950s, and extended in the 1980s, the park is carved out from the area of derelict housing, a tile manufacturer and the old Shoreditch gasworks. Occupying 6 hectares (15 acres) the scenic park includes many open green spaces as well as many football pitches. It really is the perfect place if you require a quiet spot for a picnic or just to relax, and the area is pretty vast for a park right within the Shoreditch area.

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Tranquil Haggerston Park
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Peaceful Paradise!
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The Park’s Football Pitches
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Picnic Perfect!

Taking a detour out of the park I’ll now head off to Shoreditch Park, however, to get there I’ll need to walk along one of my favourite stretches of water, the Regent’s Canal! My walks have frequently taken me along this stretch of water, as it goes through a vast majority of places and sights through the capital. To find out more about its history, check out my walk from King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath!

I recall the first time I walked along the Regent’s Canal back in 2014 having just stumbled across it when walking through Shoreditch, and since then it has always been one of my go-to walks and places to explore. It’s both a quiet and pretty place to stroll along with so much to see along it, whether that’s the boats, buildings, parks, locks or the lovely nature, it’s the place to be for a London walk. You can’t help but fall in love with it!

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One of my Favourite Places!
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Down by the Lovely River
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Beautiful Boats of the Canal

I’ll now take a detour off the canal, and head to Shoreditch Park which at 7.1 hectares (17 acres) is one of the borough’s largest parks serving the South of Hackney.  During the Regency Era and subsequent creation of the Regent’s Canal, the area was originally open fields and was developed into terraced housing for workers and families. However, during the Blitz and later air-raids in the early 1940s the area was badly damaged.

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Splendid Shoreditch Park

In 1945 the damaged homes from the bombs were cleared with temporary housing erected there as a stop-gap for the homeless families during the war. These were only designed to be there for a short-term basis, and nearly 20 years on they were removed in 1964, with the site being redeveloped and cleared between 1964 and 1973.

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Maybe the Only Park in London to Spell out its Name?!

The park we enjoy today has a number of facilities for sport, adventure & children’s playgrounds and an outdoor beach volleyball court. Every year the park is home to the Shoreditch Festival which offers live music, food and entertainment.

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Fun for all the Family!

I’ll now rejoin the Regent’s Canal and head onto my final stop on my walk, Islington Green!

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The Familiar Boats of the Regent’s Canal
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Autumnal Wonders

Based near Angel station, Islington Green is a small triangle of open land which marks the Northern boundary between the modern district of Angel and Islington. At the heart of the green is the Statue of Sir Hugh Myddleton (1560-1631) sculptured by John Thomas. Myddleton had a major role in constructing the original terminus for the New River, which was an artificial waterway in England opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water from the River Lea and Chadwell Springs and Amwell Springs. It’s so fitting that there is a statue for someone who did quite a remarkable job in helping provide such a significant aspect to people’s lives of clean drinking water!

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Statue of Hugh Myddelton

Well that’s all for today’s walk exploring the East and Inner sides of London, where you can discover everything from art, to museums, to parks, it really is a walk that would cater for everyone! Thanks for coming along on my walk and in the meantime you can catch me on Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too and have a read of my other walks! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2018

Boxpark: History of Boxpark

Brick Lane: History of Brick Lane

Geffrye Museum: History of the Geffrye Museum

Haggerston Park: History of Haggerston Park

Shoreditch Park: History of Shoreditch Park

Islington Green: Information about Islington Green

Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market: From Selling Food to Food Architecture

Welcome once again as I delve into London’s great walks and history! Today’s journey takes me from one market to another. I begin at Leadenhall Market and then go via some well-known modern landmarks, The Cheese Grater and The Gherkin. I then stop by London Liverpool Street Station before going through Petticoat Lane Market and ending at Old Spitalfields Market.

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Leadenhall Market to Old Spitalfields Market

I start at Leadenhall Market, located in the heart of the city of London, which dates back to the 14th century, and is on what used to be a centre of Roman London.

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Leadenhall Market

Back in the 1300s, the Manor of Leadenhall belonged to Sir Hugh Neville, though within a few years it became a popular meeting place for poulterers and cheese mongers. In 1411 Leadenhall was gifted to the City by former Lord Major Richard ‘Dick’ Whittington. By 1440 the then Lord Mayor Simon Eyre replaced the manor hall with a public granary, school, and chapel as a gift to London’s citizens.

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The beautifully vintage market

The market then became enlarged to start selling food produce, such as poultry, grain, eggs, butter, cheese and other items. Over the next 200 years other markets were added with wool, leather, and cutlery proprietors appearing. It soon became one of the centres of commerce in the city.

Like most buildings in 1666, the market suffered a small amount of damage in the Great Fire of London, and during its rebuilding it was split into three separate areas; a Beef Market, the Green Yard, and the Herb Market.

Leadenhall Market was redesigned in 1881 by the City’s architect, Sir Horace Jones, who was also the architect for Billingsgate and Smithfield Market’s. By 1972 the stone structure with wrought iron and glass was replaced and given Grade II heritage listed status.

Until the 20th century the poultry market remained, and by the mid 20th century shops were used for general retailing and leisure. Today, this makes it one of the City’s five principal shopping centres. One thing you notice amongst the Victorian buildings is that every store, whether that’s Barbour or Pizza Express, has the same vintage branding you’d see centuries ago. This for me makes it quite the unique place.

From a market that sells cheese, we move to one that is shaped like something you’d use for it! 122 Leadenhall Street, or the Leadenhall Building, or as it’s affectionately known as ‘The Cheesegrater’, is a 225m (737ft) building that opened in July 2014. Designed by Graham Stirk of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, developed by British Land and Oxford Properties, and built by Laing O’Rourke, it covers 70,000 square metres of glass; the same area as 9 football pitches! It has 48 floors, and houses many corporate firms.

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Cheesegrater (Credit: @CheesegraterLdn)

The nickname of The Cheesegrater came when the City of London Corporation’s chief planning officer, Peter Rees, commented to Richard Rogers, a senior partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, that he could ‘imagine his wife using it to grate parmesan’, and the name stuck! (And of course because it looks like a cheesegrater!) It also is slanted to have less impact on the protected view of St Paul’s Cathedral, and I have to say the architecture of it is grate….!

I’m taking just a slight detour from one food building to another, and I end up at The Gherkin! The commercial skyscraper was completed in December 2003, and opened in 2004.

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The Gherkin

It’s 180 metres (591ft) tall with 41 storeys. Its structure was designed by Norman Foster and Arup group with it being erected by Skanska, taking two years to construct.

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Beautiful Gherkin at night (Credit: The Gherkin)

It’s commonly referred to as one of the City’s most recognisable examples of contemporary architecture, and I have to say, it’s up there with other older landmarks as a distinctive part of our skyline.

I leave two of the capital’s most famous modern-day landmarks to visit one of London’s main networks to the East, Essex and East Anglia. London Liverpool Street Station was opened in 1874 as a new terminus for the Great Eastern Railway with connections to the Metropolitan railway, the world’s first underground railway.

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London Liverpool Street Station

The station was built on the site originally occupied by the Bethlem Royal Hospital. Its roof was designed and built by the Fairburn Engineering Company, who also supplied the roof for the Royal Albert Hall.

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Inside the station with the hustle and bustle of commuting

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that it went under major redevelopment work with the modernising of the station’s facilities and simplifying the layout, but still retaining the grand 19th century architecture.

Outside the station stands a statue to the Children of the Kindertransport, which marks the people of Britain who saved the lives of 10,000 unaccompanied, mainly, Jewish children who fled Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939. It was dedicated by the Associates of Jewish Refugees Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief in 2006.

Today, London Liverpool Street has 123 million visitors a year and is the main connection to Stansted Airport, with the tube lines including Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines.

I’d love to quickly jet set to Stansted Airport, but I’m off to hit more markets! The next of these is Petticoat Lane Market located near Old Spitalfields and Brick Lane, which is one of the oldest and most famous markets in London. It wasn’t formally registered and given legal trading until 1936.

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Entrance to Petticoat Lane Market

The first reference to Petticoat Lane came in the early 1600s when it was called Peticote Lane with traders in its early days selling clothes and other cheap, second-hand items. Petticoat Lane Market is split into two markets in two locations with one on Wentworth Street which runs six days a week, and other on Middlesex Street that is only open on Sundays.

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Petticoat Lane Market on a Sunday offering a variety of items

My final destination on my walk takes me to yet another one of London’s famous markets, Old Spitalfields!

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Entrance to Old Spitalfields Market

The name Spitalfields takes its name from the hospital and priory, St Mary’s Spittel that was founded in 1197. The market first began trading in 1638 when traders used to work from a collection of sheds and stalls to meet the needs of an evergrowing London population. It soon became the popular place for fresh produce while trading six days a week.

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The busy marketplace

By 1876 the market fell into decline due to a reputation of it being a cheap area in which to live and trade. This prompted former market porter Robert Horner to buy a short lease on the market to rebuild it. It was completed in 1893 at a cost of £80,000. The City of London acquired direct control of the market in 1920 and extended the buildings eight years later. With popularity and a bigger reputation, in May 1991 the wholesale fruit and vegetable market was forced to move to Leyton, East London to keep up with demand. This is known as New Spitalfields Market.

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Vibrant Old Spitalfields Market

At the end of 2005, after 18 years, the Spitalfields regeneration programme was completed with new two public spaces, Bishops Square and Crispin Place, a public art programme, an events programme, retailers and restaurants.

When you visit the market today it’s a mix of fast food, designers, artists, with vintage and antique clothing and furniture!

Well, it has been an amazing walk to experience not just one, but three of London’s famous markets, as well as some of the most recognisable modern buildings.

Please share your memories and thoughts with me in the comments section, and don’t forget to follow the blog, and me on Twitter and Instagram

Thanks for joining me, and I’ll see you next time! 🙂

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger, unless credit given. © Copyright 2016

History of Leadenhall Market

The Cheesegrater Twitter Account

The Leadenhall Building

The Gherkin Building

History of London Liverpool Street Station

History of Petticoat Lane Market

Old Spitalfields Market History